How a chorus led scientists to a new frog species

How a Chorus Led Scientists to a New Frog Species
How a Chorus Led Scientists to a New Frog Species

A new species of frog has been officially confirmed, close to 80 years after its existence was first theorized.

The frog, Rana kauffeldi, is a type of leopard frog, and the process of establishing it as a new species started with this -- the frog's unique chorus, or its advertisement call, as it's known by scientists.

As all the headlines have read, the discovery in that video technically happened in New York City, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Scientists didn't find the frog hiding in the subway, or somewhere in Central Park.

Instead, they made the discovery on Staten Island, sometimes called "the forgotten borough," in the island's extensive wetlands, which constitute one of the last remaining examples of the city's marshy past.

It's also appropriate the frog was noticed on the island considering the first person to posit its existence was Staten Island resident and herpetologist Carl Kauffeld, back in 1936.

As Matt Lanier from New York Daily News put is, "He was sort of the first Steve Irwin."

As the study notes, his proposal that there were three species of leopard frog in the Northeast wasn't widely accepted, and it wasn't until the scientists from the study closely examined the frogs and tested them genetically, that the new species could be confirmed.

That's why the new frog takes the species name "Kauffeldi," in his honor. As for its common name? The BBC might have inadvertently taken a stab at it:

BBC: "The Staten Island frogs."

Though, scientists have been taking reports of its distinctive call over the past couple of years and have charted that the species reaches as far south as North Carolina, which is why they've named it instead, the "Atlantic Coast leopard frog."

The study says, despite its very recent confirmation, the frog is already a vulnerable species, because of its highly specific habitat needs and the threat of habitat loss.

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